L’Abattoir is a restaurant located in the heart of Gastown. Situated between Gaoler’s Mews and Blood Alley, the place is a wonderful additional to the city’s historic realms. It adds a touch of modernity to the area while paying homage to the neighbourhood’s colourful past. The restaurant is set in a refurbished brick and beam building that combines classic French tile work with industrial fixtures, natural wood, and glass and steel finishes. The interior design is stunning as is the food served. It really is a treat to be able to enjoy a meal in an environment like the one offered here by L’Abattoir. With a bar and lounge setting, an elevated dining room, and even a sun soaked atrium, guests can enjoy a meal and even a drink or two (or many!) in a relaxed and chic environment.
My experience at the restaurant was not the best, but still acceptable. We celebrated a friend’s birthday that night and even though we had made reservations, we still had to wait a good 45 minutes before we were seated, as “the diners sitting at our table would not leave”. (Which seemed like a pretty lame excuse as I thought tables would be kept off service once reservations were made…) Other than that little hiccup, the food, service, and ambience was fantastic.
First, we were served a few baskets of complimentary bread. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I always judge a place according to what is served before my meal. I use it as an indicator as to how well the food might be because most of the time, you’ll know the food will turn out amazing if the pre-meal is already great. At most places I’ve been to, I’m not usually a fan of their pre-meal grub, but the bread here was definitely one of the better ones I’ve had. It seemed fresh and they served three types of bread all infused with different ingredients. From bacon, to cheeses, and to even an assortment of herbs, the bread served was amazing. It received compliments from around the table, and I think it might have even made us forget about that little wait we had before.
With the pre-course being delicious, we had high expectations for the following, and it definitely did not disappoint. Our appetizers ranged from veal sweetbreads to escargot (not pictured) to a samosa-like pastry stuffed with Dungeness crab on a bed of chic peas. Each dish was rich in flavor and was definitely a great addition to our meal. Personally, I had the veal sweetbreads on toast. I was a bit hesitant at first because I am definitely not used to eating sweetbreads, but it turned out to be tasty and all the garnishes on the plate seem to compliment each other well.
Onto the main course! Our group of 9 each ordered a different variation of the menu. From duck, to halibut, to steak, we each had a stunningly-presented plate in front of us. There were compliments about the duck as well as the steak as they were both cooked perfectly (and tasted great from what I was able to try.) My meal consisted of the halibut. Overall it was a good dish that ranged in texture and flavour. While I did enjoy the good contrast between the crust and the fish itself, the taste of it somewhat overpowered the halibut, and the star of the dish quickly became just a piece of protein. The dish worked well together, but I would suggest going a little more easy on the intensity of some flavours/seasoning next time. Another slight mishap would be the mussels (?) that accompanied the fish. It had an overwhelming fishy taste, and while some at the table didn’t quite seem to mind, I thought that they could be eliminated altogether. Other than that, I enjoyed the dish.
There were plenty of things on the menu that were fantastic and made this meal an amazing one. Though there were a few stumbles at our first experience at L’Abattoir, I’d still recommend this restaurant for their great food (and from what I hear, drinks), and also their spectacular ambience.